We’ve received a handful of emails from the residents of 29 Palms. Please find the following response to the themes to many of questions posed and our response with specific examples of situations which have happened in the last five years to our military families. I am providing a backdated post so that it is not public unless people have the link to the response. Many of you may be surprised by some of the stories below.
USMC Life’s mission is to provide opinions, information, resources, and links for protecting and informing our current military families. We are committed to providing an overarching opinion gathered from a large segment of spouses to ease the transition process and use the site as a starting point to make the best choices for their families. We even state on the ‘About Us’ Page: “We are not advocating that what you read on this site is fact, but merely opinions of other military spouses. It’s just an opinion ~ feel free to take it or leave it. Enjoy the journey!”
USMC Life is not a newspaper; it’s a personal blog and website; it is not sanctioned or controlled by the DoD. Every opinion on the site has been gathered by spouses ranging from PFC to General’s spouses, but primarily consists of opinions from E5 to O6. Each “overall opinion” given on the site has been provided by military families who have been stationed in 29 Palms for more than a year, and those families must have lived there within the last five years.
As always, USMC Life is happy to revisit opinions posted on the site any time feedback is requested and have since made some positive changes due to some questions posted. This may surprise you, but four our staff members have lived in Twentynine Palms in the last five years, for at least three years, and range from Staff NCO to Field Grade Officer’s families. In fact, we sent out a number of feelers into our community to gauge the feeling for 29 Palms July 12-July 18, 2013 due to your inquiries and have provided specific incidents listed below.
As our pages focus on a number of concerns in 29 Palms, in no way are our intentions malevolent, but instead providing morally useful knowledge in a public forum. We do provide a number of positives on the site including: it’s a great place to make friends and connect with others, Joshua Tree National Park is beautiful, it’s an easy jumping off point to discover Vegas, San Diego or LA, there are beautiful sunsets, access to outdoor recreation, great local activities etc., and have made changes to reflect the more positive side of 29 since many felt it was too damning.
Our goals and intentions are not to slight the city of 29 Palms and we would be more than happy to consider adding 100 words provided by the Chamber of Commerce. While we are interested in helping bring business to the 29 Palms area, we will not endorse or allow advertising on the site from just anyone. Businesses looking to reach our military community should consider advertising on the site to reach our demographic. Owners who accept that the challenges posed on the site are what military families are facing and feeling in 29, have a huge advantage over those who are unwilling to accept that this is our reality today. Understanding and accepting those challenges will provide a unique advantage to those businesses.
29 Palms Schools
USMC Life previously posted: How are the schools at 29 Palms Marine Corps Base? The education system and other kids that your kids will go to school are not the best. Many parents who live in Twentynine Palms choose to home school their older children because of the problems they’ve encountered. Note, there are other elementary schools, but these are the schools your child will go to if you live on base.
As a side note, the elementary schools in 29 aren’t so much the problem as the Junior High and High School. Make the most of the education your child gets when you get here: meet your children’s teachers and be proactive to make the best of your experiences.
High School: ’08-09 Report Card: 23-47% proficiency rating, 36% suspension rate, 4% expulsion rate. 87% graduation rate. There tends to be bullying and a negative learning environment. I’ve heard several times that the kids from out of town whose parents don’t enforce positive behavior tend to be a negative influence on children overall. Many choose to go the distance learning route through the schools.
Update: We’ve now updated to the ’11-12 Report Card: Everything remains about the same except for two things: They haven’t met their Adequate Yearly Progress provisions (jumping to a -5% performance from the previous year). Also new is that suspensions jumped from 36% to 64% in this report.
Junior High: ’09-10 Report Card 36-67% proficiency rating, 69% suspension rate, 5% expulsion rate. Did not meet the yearly performance requirements mandated by California. There tends to be bullying and a negative learning environment. I’ve heard several times that the kids from out of town whose parents don’t enforce positive behavior tend to be a negative influence on children overall. I’ve heard others describe it as a hip-hop video environment. Many choose to go the distance learning route through the schools.
Update: We’ve now updated to the ’11-12 Report Card: Everything remains about the same.
USMC Life Response to Schools in 29 Palms
Based on the information provided the schools are not meeting the Yearly Progress, in addition to its 64% suspension rate and having a 47% proficiency rating at best, it is without question acceptable to consider and report the schools are “not the best.” We comparably take into account families whose duty stations have been and could be at Pendleton with their kids in San Clemente High: 47-73% proficiency rating, 4% suspension rate, with a vast number of sports, AP classes and more offered. Or Quantico High: 54-84% proficiency rating, again with a vast number of sports and AP classes+. Omitting these disadvantages we would be a disservice to our Marine Corps community.
Specific examples of incidents reported by military families within the last five years:
- Poor communication at 29 Palms Elementary. School secretary screamed at us, was verbally combative, when we inquired in calm manner why we hadn’t been contacted about school activities/dates being cancelled. We escalated to the Principal and School Superintendent and they essentially acted like they didn’t care- it was as if they swept our concerns aside because we would be moving in three years. The School Liaison Officer was at the meeting and after it was over, she relayed how disappointed she had been with the schools and told us that the schools never take responsibility for anything (she has since PCS’d).
- (Child) was being teased/bullied a lot at school, so much so that I had to go into the principal to talk to him about it. The principal assured me that the school did not tolerate any type of bullying and he would take care of it. After a few days the principal called me back and said he thought that the bullying wasn’t too bad “That it was just normal bullying and there was nothing to do about it” (29 Palms Elementary)
- (Child) was picked on at the junior high for months. His gym uniform was put in a “full” toilet and the teacher told him to get it out. (Child) didn’t get it out for obvious reasons and I had to send in money to buy a new uniform. (Child) was docked points for not having the proper uniform until his new one came in! The boy continued to push (Child) down, punch him, and trip him. No one at the school would help. Finally after being poked in the eye (Child) punched back. Both boys were punished but when I asked the vice principal what the school would do to protect (Child) (so he did not have to fight back) they said nothing. I pulled (Child) out and he went to the ICE program instead of school…… At the same time this was happening (older sister) had people picking on her, they were throwing around condoms at school, I felt like there was not any control over the classrooms.
- (Child) fell and broke her arm, no one who was supposed to be watching the playground helped her out and they told her to stop crying. Her teacher wasn’t aware of what happened at the playground, assumed (Child) scraped herself. The teacher wouldn’t send her to the nurse and I ended up having to take her to the ER hours later.
- I had issues with my children and testing for learning disabilities, they never seemed willing to listen to concerns with speech concerns and both (Child 1) and (Child 2) needed testing for LD. (Child 1) was tested but passed their simple test and they “ran out of time” before (Child 2) could be tested. Both of them have been tested elsewhere and have an IEP for a learning disability.
- When (Child) was in 5th grade a “local” kid stabbed her with a pencil at school. As he stabbed her he said, “I shanked your ass.” When I attempted to discuss it with the school I was told that I was overreacting and to go home and be mommy and let them be the educators. That was her last day at that school.
- THE SCHOOLS SUCK! Too many recesses, our kids do not have music, art (electives like other schools).
- The other HUGE negative is the school systems and the teachers here. My experience is that the schools are not that good and the teachers need to care more than they do. There have been quite a few times that I have had papers come home corrected from the teacher only to find out that she doesn’t look at each item. Math papers coming home saying that multiplication is correct when it is not, then being told that it is the student’s responsibility to have it correct. Or having a division problem marked wrong when the child was correct and the teacher used a calculator to check the answer when learning long hand division and being given more excuses. I would think that the State and the Base would be more involved with how our kids are learning. They also waste more money with unhealthy lunches instead of making fresh and healthy foods. I also hate the fact that language and arts have been taken away. And let’s not forget about the nasty people, or the fact that kids seem ruder here and have lost respect more than I have seen on any other base. I understand that we will meet people from all walks of life and different personalities everywhere we go, but it seems to me that there is a lack of respect and discipline more here with adults and children. This in itself keeps people more to themselves.
- High school does not offer the full array of AP classes that the course book lists. Do not offer physics at all – let alone AP. I know because my son is in the high school here and we asked the counselor about it. The junior high and high school do not offer lockers for the students, but expect them to lug around all of their books for all of their classes all day every day, and then they have to take them home to do homework. Some of the textbooks are available online, so that’s an option, but in Oceanside students were issued a take-home set of books and then there was a classroom set of books so they didn’t have to break their backs lugging their books around all day.
- The problem with schools in 29 is funding. There is no money and also most teachers and administrators are complacent. They can’t hire aides due to funding and the teacher/student ratio is very high, no field trip money, etc. There is A LOT of, this person got this job because their related or friends with this person. Now with that being said, there are a few teachers that do care and go above and beyond even if it comes out of their own pockets and time.
- I was lucky and had no problems with 29 Elementary, 29 Junior High, or 29 HS, but again my kids don’t have learning problems or behavior problems. (Child 1) and (Child 2’s) teachers at 29 Elem (Child 1) did 4th-6th and (Child 2) did 1st-3rd, went above and beyond to make sure my kids were challenged academically because there was no “gifted” program so to speak of. The Jr high School and High School also challenged my son, and put him in all the honors classes. The Jr high got a new principal a couple of years ago and he has really turned the school around. It’s on a block system now and does offer more electives than before. Am I glad my son is not graduating from the high school? Yes because again funding, they just don’t have the programs and classes that other states, cities have. I did spend a lot of time getting to know all of my kid’s teachers and I think that helped getting their perspective on things. The demographics for 29 is poor and military. The poor students don’t have parents that support their education, because of work or perhaps they’re in jail. I was on the PTO at 29 Elem and it was in shambles but with a little of our hard work it was golden again. The teachers, principal, and secretaries were GREATFUL for the help and we saw a lot of smiles from the teachers also. From what I saw, if the military moms/ dads who stay home or have free time would make it a priority to get to the school and volunteer, support the fundraisers, I guarantee there wouldn’t be so many complaints.
- We homeschooled last year, but the prior year my girls went to 29 Elementary, and I was far from pleased! Very poor communication between school and families, poor planning of events, lack of money for everything! They were always sending papers home requesting things constantly. The school district it’s self is where the main problems lie, plus lack of funds! We just felt our children would get a better education at home where we could decide what is being taught, and we don’t have to worry about the bullying, as that was a big issue in the schools as well! Plus the busing issues we had; just helped us make the decision even faster! So there’s my two cents worth!
- My only experience with the schools here is their lack of communication with you prior to arriving. The school liaison was great but I wanted to speak to someone from the actual school. We just had a gut feeling public school would not be for us here. We have never homeschooled before but that is what we did last year. I spoke with friends who were disappointed with education level especially in language arts and reading. Bullying issues not being addresses properly etc. like I said no actual experience just hearsay.
29 Palms Housing
Posted about Military Housing: Should I rent housing at Twentynine Palms? There are many home rentals for military in the area. The BAH Basic Allowance for Housing at 29 Palms is zip 92278. Many think that this is a great place to buy a home because the housing is much more affordable than many other places around the country. But buyer beware … there are a ton of break-ins on a regular occurrence. Our local paper, The Desert Trail, publishes all of the Sheriff’s calls (not online, in the paper version only). Check it out for yourself. If you are committed to buying, research where the Sheriff’s calls go on a regular basis and avoid those areas!
USMC Life Response Housing in 29 Palms and Area
The site has been updated to not sound as harsh and includes describing that there are some nice neighborhoods in the JT, 29, and YV areas. We are advocating that our families do their due diligence when choosing to rent or buy in the area to protect themselves. That being said, the housing waiting list is long because many of us want to live on base because we share many of the same opinions. Each and every one of our staff members have lived out in town and all of us have chosen to move on base because we felt unsafe because of the crime in the area, had run ins with pedophiles, etc.
Every Marine Corps base has the same problems of crime and base rules, we don’t expound on these details because it’s the same issues on every base. However, we have now included a link to the overall pros/cons (posted on another portion of our site) when it comes to base housing on each and every housing page for bases to provide a more “fair” perspective.
We also received three very detailed emails about bad property managers in 29 Palms with them trying to fleece our military families for fraudulent changes, dirty homes, etc. However, I don’t want to focus on these particulars.
Specific Examples of incidents/feedback reported by military families within the last five years:
- Cars and homes surrounding our monthly rental had break-ins on a regular occurrence. I’d rather live on base and be surrounded by peers.
- We had people steal packages off doorsteps in the neighborhood a lot. I had two packages stolen, and even the mail carrier mentioned she stopped leaving packages because it was happening so much off base.
- I know that I chose to live on base after hearing horror stories from my friends about living in town. I had one friend get her car broken into multiple times. I also don’t find most of the native 29’ers very friendly and therefore don’t feel very welcome as a military family in “their” town. Although the base is not perfect by any means, I still felt safer there especially when my husband was gone versus living in town.
- The property management companies are charging $1200 and $1300 a month for decent houses…an O3E BAH is $1329…so I imagine a Sergeant with a child or two can afford that. Naturally the better alternative for many families is moving onto base housing so they don’t have to worry about paying electric PLUS gas and water, as well as that hefty up front deposit.
- You couldn’t pay me to live out in town, nor could you pay me to make the daily 40 min one way commute to base from Yucca.
- I think a good portion of homes off base are trashy looking, not to mention utilities can be pretty high out in town. The list goes on.
29 Palms Pedophiles
Posted about Pedophiles: Rumor has it that the California Penitentiary System ships out criminals and pedophiles to the 29 Palms area because of the low cost of living. Is it true? I can’t pinpoint hard evidence that says yes it is, but there are a huge number of criminals and pedophiles out in town because of the lower cost of living. To give you an example of this, there are 50 sex offenders within the city limits of our itty-bitty town. Again, check it out for yourself: Megan’s Law. City Search: Twentynine Palms or Zip: 92277
USMC Life Response to Pedophile Statement
Our last update of pedophiles was last year. Since we updated the page, a total of 60 sex offenders have moved into the town of 29 Palms. This is an inordinate amount of pedophiles/sex offenders within a small radius of community. We have removed the “rumored shipping” portion, because we haven’t received any facts stating so, but we also pointed that out within that same statement.
The reason why we focus on the pedophiles in 29 and Yucca areas are because there is no where you can really escape them. In other cities like Oceanside, yes the pedophiles are bad, but we also don’t recommend to our community to live there- instead recommending them to live in Carlsbad or San Clemente, where the schools are also better.
Specific examples of incidents reported by military families:
- We lived out in town and across the street from a pedophile. We had no idea, and unknowingly invited this man into our home with our two young children because his dog escaped and we found her. After doing a Megan’s Law search before Halloween, I was horrified to find out I was surrounded by them and I lived off Adobe/2 Mile in a nicer part of town. It was enough to freak me out and move on base. At least I know they don’t allow pedophiles to live on base.
- Our son’s preschool hired a pedophile to work there and didn’t do a background check. What preschool doesn’t do background checks when hiring people?? They sent a letter out after he had worked there for some time like it was no big deal. That was our final straw since they seemed to care more about the full day students who were biting, hitting and throwing things – all of which were not allowed – our part time kids weren’t being protected, but all they seemed to care about was the money coming in.
The “Town” of 29 Palms
We all love the feel of a small town. Many of us are in fact, from small towns. Yes, there are many supporters of our military in the community, as well as some folks who have decided that 29 Palms is the best place for their retirement.
However, not all people stationed in 29 Palms feel that we are welcomed in the town.
Specific examples reported by military families:
- I booked an appointment at an Asian Massage Parlor as a special treat for my hard working husband, not knowing how truly “special” this place was. My husband came home and reported that his masseuse tapped his privates and announced $40? for a happy ending. Disgusting. This has been going on for years and everyone looks the other way.
- Nothing wrong with a small town – just that we don’t choose to live here and yet we support the economy, and yet the economy doesn’t support us…
- There are no jobs in 29 Palms for military spouses. There are over 80 people applying for every opening on base, told to me by one of the HR techs at MCCS Personnel.
- Military spouses with an MBA, Bachelor degrees in marketing and public relations, 2 childhood education degrees, and an Air Force veteran with ability to speak four different languages, and another military spouse with a degree in English all worked for minimum wage at the MCX.
- I have come across more rude, unprofessional, downright- “WHERE IS YOUR HOME TRAINING” people that I have ever encountered in our 17 years of service here at 29.
- When I lived in 29 Palms, I felt that I wasn’t welcome in “their town”. Of course there are a few shops where business owners make you feel like they were happy to have you, but overall it seemed that we were the bane on their society and they didn’t want us intruding.
- 29 Palms was a huge setback for us from schools to kid’s sports programs. There’s a reason why 29 is one of the highest GeoBachelor bases for the Marine Corps. Our daughter is competitive in gymnastics. Our son plays Hockey and Rugby. There are a few sports in town that are offered that they participate in, but the range of kids playing on a team is vast. For example, we have a friend who is currently living in 29 whose kids are playing soccer. The youngest teammate is 5 and the oldest is 10. Doesn’t anyone else see this as an issue when it comes to our kids getting hurt? The simple fact is that the sports are not as competitive, and that we’d have to drive to Palm Springs to get our children in the sports they could be in on any other base.
- I look forward to leaving to hopefully better weather and schools.
- After 14 1/2 years of the military life this base/state has been the most challenging in every aspect.
- No real opportunities for kids. At 13 years old, my daughter had to play coed soccer with kids ranging in age from 10 to 14 because of the lack of any organized soccer. If she wants the opportunity to play advanced level soccer (something she has wanted for many years now) then we have to drive to Palm Desert.
- My husband wanted to buy softball cleats, to play on a team in town, which pays the park and recs department a team fee to play, and we went to the PX, they didn’t have any…short of driving to Big 5 to see their selection, we were going to have to drive 3 hours round trip, plus spend the gas money, to shop for the cleats. The weather is terrible. There are no stores to shop at. There is no movie theater. There is nowhere to play miniature golf.
- I truly think that this environment has brought out nasty behavior in people across the board. Behavior that I have never seen in my life, regardless of any military affiliation. At least there is an end in sight for all of us.
- There are car dealerships which are shady which prey on our Marines with interest rates of 22% or more. They close them down and then allow them to reopen with the same vehicles in a new location. What is 29 Palms doing about this? Nothing.
- How about the base’s “off limits” for local establishments, where Marines could get court-martialed for visiting?
- Adobe Smoke Shop 6441 Adobe Road, Twentynine Palms Ca 92277
- STC Smoke Shop 6001 Adobe Road, Twentynine Palms Ca 92277
- K Smoke Shop 5865A Adobe Road, Twentynine Palms Ca 92277
- Yucca Tobacco Mart 57602 29 Palms Highway, Yucca Valley Ca 92286
- Puff’s Tobacco 57063 29 Palms Highway, Yucca Valley Ca 92286
- Village Pub 266 South Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs Ca 92262
- The Whispering Palms Apartments 449 East Arenas Road, Palm Springs, Ca 92262
- NYPD Pizza 260-262 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, Ca 92262
Finally, I want to highlight a few of the businesses which I loved when I was stationed in 29 Palms. I’m married to a field grade officer and lived there from 2007-2010. I lived both off base and on base. I echo the feelings that these other military spouses do. It’s a place to get stationed while children are young. I enjoyed the 29 Palms Inn, 29 Palms Bistro, Crossroads Inn in Joshua Tree, taking the kids to Luckie Park, eating at the Kebab House and more.
We want to work with you to both meet our goals, but as you can see from the notes above, the beliefs that our current military families share are just not the same.
I look forward to working with you in the future and sharing ideas.